This is Alex, for reference. The prompt for this photo was "Look ghostly".
It was better than my "Look ghostly" pose, to be fair.
Anyway. Inside the castle we assembled (there were about 30 of us in all) for a guided tour of the rooms where we would later hold vigils and use ghost hunting equipment to try and rustle up some spooks. During a talk about the history of the place, we reached a part about 2 young girls who fell through the ice while skating on the pond in the 1920s, and one man in the group suddenly collapsed in quite dramatic fashion (I feel it's okay to say this now as I checked and he was absolutely fine afterwards). An auspicious start, as I'm sure you'll agree.
We then broke into smaller groups and took up stations in different rooms in the castle. Our group started in the dining room, where the walls are decorated with portraits of historical politicians (I'm not sure why) as well as an imposing but lovely portrait of Lady Amelia, who once visited the castle and is reported to have been sighted there in ghostly form. (We didn't see her.) There was also a beautiful grand piano and a dining table laid out as though the castle's former residents might be about to sit down to Christmas dinner.
Once we were in situ, all the lights went out, and the guide, Lucy, called out for spirits to come and talk to us. [I should probably point out here that I'm a Scully as far as paranormal phenomena is concerned - highly sceptical, but willing to admit to being wrong if I'm ever presented with actual, measurable evidence.] It was initially very 'quiet', as I expected, with only a quivering curtain (I think it was just moving because of the heat rising from the radiator) until we all heard the sound of footsteps running quickly down the stairs. And as I mentioned, all the lights were off at this point, and none of the other groups were stationed near the stairs, so that, I will admit, got me to raise an eyebrow. Anyone running down those stairs in the dark -- even if they knew the house really, really well -- would break their neck. So, I'll count that as one spooky encounter.
After that, 4 or 5 members of the group used a glass to try and communicate with a spirit. I watched them for a while as they somehow identified the spirit as Thomas Humphrey (Humphrey was the surname of one of the families who had owned the castle) who said he would appear to us near the aforementioned piano. So off I went to record.
No Thomas, unfortunately, but you can just about make out the portrait of Lady Amelia and the piano, and hear the screech of the glass whizzing around the table in the background. Creepy, no?
Later we visited the schoolroom up in the eaves (no sightings there) and the cellar where the guides told us a ghost known as The Cellar Man often appears. Then up into the toy room where the 2 drowned girls are said to frequent, and as well as using the glass again to try and communicate, we did something called a 'human pendulum'. This involved standing in a circle with our hands linked, while one member of the group stood in the middle and allowed herself to be pushed forward or backward by the spirits. To be honest, this was the part I had the most narrow-eyed reaction to, as the person at the centre seemed extremely keen to hear from the departed. Very keen.
To finish off the night (it was closing in on 3am by this point) a couple of members of the group used a spirit board to contact a spirit, and received a message that one of them was going to die slowly, concluding with the ominous message "RUN".
The night was great fun and very atmospheric, but again I can't say it really swayed me from the path of scepticism. It was great inspiration for writing spooky stories, though, and most of all it was nice to hang out with my sister.
Kat out x